6 Great Apps to Help You Write

    by Sarah Juckes
    September 9, 2014
    Photo by Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

    How do you write? Are you a pen and paper person? Or are you a jot-down-ideas-on-your-phone writer? For those of you on the lookout for nifty bits of tech to help you with everything from planning to writing the novel, here are some useful apps the team at CompletelyNovel have tried and tested with authors in mind.

    1. For jotting down ideas: Evernote

    "For those of you on the lookout for nifty bits of tech to help you with everything from planning to writing the novel, here are some useful apps the team at CompletelyNovel have tried and tested with authors in mind."



    Evernote is perfect for making notes. You can sync your devices, so you can make notes on your phone on the bus and pick them up on your tablet when you get in. Evernote can be used by one person or collaboratively, which is also useful if you’re writing with someone else.

    2. For plotting and character development: Bubbl.us and Gliffy

    Bubbl and Gliffy are free-to-use websites that enable you to easily create customized diagrams and charts to construct a clear storyline. Basically, it’s a techy version of the old post-it note on your floor technique, and is much less susceptible to be lost if someone opens a door, or accidentally lets the dog in.


    Using Gliffy to plot a novel

    Using Gliffy to plot a novel

    3. For long-form writing: Scrivener

    Scrivener is a well-known writing software that works for both Windows and Mac. It has a plenty of effective tools to organize your research, notes, storylines and much more. Perhaps the best feature is the keyword search — no more wasted time trying to find that well-hidden folder with initial ideas in the depths of your computer. It costs $45 so it’s slightly more expensive than the other apps on this list, but then again, it’s much more involved.

    4. For distraction-free writing: FocusWriter

    FocusWriter is a document creator like Microsoft Word with a stripped-down aesthetic that is distraction-free, whilst still providing all of the functions you need. You can set timers, alarms, writing goals, spell-checking or statistics. It’s free and works across Windows, Mac and Linux. Great for those of you who spend more time than is necessary worrying about what font to use for your characters’ handwriting instead of getting words down on paper.

    5. For collaborating: Poetica

    Need feedback from others on plot devices, characters or editing? Poetica was created to make collaborative editing much more effective. You upload or paste the file you need to edit, and share with whoever you want. You can then edit together at the same time, as you might do with a Google Doc.

    6. For editing: Hemingway
    Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 10.29.05 AM

    If you find editing tiresome, Hemingway can make it easier and quicker. All you need to do is to paste in the text and Hemingway will automatically highlight problems in your writing, such as hard-to-read sentences, complex phrases and passive voice. It’s a good place to start, but don’t rely on it to give you the same level of detail that a human editor can, if that’s what you’re after.

    More Reading

    > 10 Essential Non-Writing Tools to Help Writers Write, by Sarah Juckes

    > 7 Social Media Tips for Authors to Connect Over the Holidays, by Sarah Juckes

    > The Hows and Whys of Metadata for Authors, by Sarah Juckes

    > 10 Proofreading Tips for Self-Published Authors, by Anna Lewis

    Sarah Juckes is Communications Manager for CompletelyNovel, where this post first appeared. CompletelyNovel is an online publishing platform and author community that aims to make book publishing simple through use of online tools. 

    Tagged: apps authors collaboration editing evernote focuswriter poetica scrivener writing

    One response to “6 Great Apps to Help You Write”

    1. InklingBooks says:

      No, with the exception of an on-the-go note-taking app for a smart phone, pick one app (not six) and stick with it. Tracking where you are with multiple documents on multiple apps will drive you crazy.

      That’s why the upcoming release of a simplified version of Scrivener for iOS has me excited. I can start a book by taking notes on my iPhone and actually write with that same document on my Mac.

      And when I need to layout and edit that document for publication, I turn the the best app for that too, InDesign. One document in it can be exported to multiple print and digital formats.

      A two-step workflow:

      1. Scrivener for creation.

      2. InDesign for publication.

      Will give you the best quality in the least amount of time.

      –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

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